By Tommy Horton
I ran across something rather remarkable a couple of weeks ago driving north on US 61 through the Mississippi Delta. It was so remarkable that I am quite sure I’ll never forget the experience. I know this will sound downright absurd and maybe even preposterous, but I believe I ran across the most beautiful field of cotton I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s hard to believe anybody could make that kind of statement.
Maybe it had something to do with the mood I was in, or perhaps it was the environment we’re in today with so much corn and soybean acreage invading cotton country. I had been driving for several hours after a three-day trek to the south Delta and northeast Louisiana. By mid-October, most of the cotton in this area is already harvested and on its way to the gin. And that was certainly the case this time.
Everywhere I glanced on either side of the highway I saw row after row of standard-sized modules and round modules lined up in single files. Occasionally, I saw a few fields where harvest was in progress and almost complete. But, for the most part, the dominant images were of corn and soybean fields, which have taken over so much cotton acreage in Mississippi.
I kept hoping that I’d run across a field that would remind me of what this part of the Delta looked like just a few years ago – a wall-to-wall sea of white cotton. Then, it happened. Approximately 17 miles south of Clarksdale, Miss., I looked to my right and pulled over on to the shoulder of the highway. What I saw practically hypnotized me. It was one of the largest cotton fields I have ever seen, and it seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see looking north, east and south.
This was no ordinary cotton field. A gentle breeze made the cotton shimmer as if it were an ocean. It was immaculate and spectacular at the same time. There were no weeds anywhere. It was simply a perfect field.
After spending 27 years in the cotton industry, I have never seen anything quite like this. I’ve walked fields in every region of the Belt, but on this day on US 61, there was something magnetic about this massive cotton field that was attracting a crowd of spectators. Looking to the south, I could see that some round-module harvesters were starting to roll. However, it would take many days for this field to be picked.
I took several photos and stood there for 30 to 45 minutes. It was hard to leave something that seemed to belong in a Norman Rockwell painting. A trucker finally came roaring by and honked his horn and waved at me.
This beautiful cotton even looked good to him. As we like to say in this business, you had to be there.
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